KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD (born May 29, 1917, Brookline, Massachusetts-died November 22, 1963, Dallas, Texas). Thirty-fifth President of the United States ( 1961-1963) whose low profile on civil rights* was overtaken by events when he was forced to send troops to help James Meredith* enroll at the University of Mississippi and had to confront Alabama Governor George C. Wallace* over the entrance of two black students to the University of Alabama. His administration authored what was to become the Civil Rights Act of 1964* after his assassination.
The second of nine children of Joseph Patrick and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a war hero and Harvard University graduate (B.S., 1940). His senior thesis was expanded into a best-selling book, Why England Slept ( 1940). Kennedy ran for Congress in 1946 in the Massachusetts 11th District at age 29. He won overwhelmingly. He served in the House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953 and advocated liberal policies such as more Social Security and public housing. His parents remained a major force in his life. His father was a multimillionaire businessman who was appointed head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and ambassador to Great Britain.
In 1952 Kennedy ran for the U.S. Senate against Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., the popular incumbent. Despite Dwight D. Eisenhower's* victory in the presidential race in the state, Kennedy won by a substantial margin. In 1956 Kennedy wrote the Pulitzer Prize -- winning Profiles in Courage, a study of eight great American political leaders who defied public opinion to act out their conscience. In the same year Kennedy reached national prominence during his losing battle at the Democratic convention to become Adlai Stevenson's running mate.